To coordinate the diverse activities for commemorating the Bicentennial, the government formed a work group dubbed the Bicentennial Commission. It was born during the government of Ricardo Lagos through a Supreme Decree, meaning, a special and specific order mandated by the president of the Republic based on the Constitution and the law.
The Bicentennial Commission was created on October 16th, 2002, by Supreme Decree Nº176. Its mission is to advise the president on the commemoration of Chile’s 200 years an independent nation. This way, the commission works on everything related to the coordination of policies, design, scheduling, projects and activities aimed at celebrating the Bicentennial to the best of the countries capacities.
On this same note, it is responsible for proposing ideas for activities, policies and measures to our top authority, in this case, Michelle Bachelet.
Their objective is for Chile to reach the Bicentennial as a diverse and developed nation.
It doesn’t end here; the Commission has the task of collecting the dreams and proposals of all Chileans, as well as creating spaces that encourage the participation of every citizen.
Constitution of the Bicentennial Commission
The National Bicentennial Commission and its Advisory Committee was reconstituted in September of 2008, including 17 important authority figures of the country and 42 noted figures from different social areas.
The ceremony was led by president Michelle Bachelet and was held in the Montt Varas hall of the La Moneda Palace.
According to Bachelet’s own words, the fact that a commission was created for the Bicentennial –as well as an advisory committee- springs from an idea to “think and rethink Chile as an independent nation with the Bicentennial in mind; reflect on our past and our future; find our essence; identify our passions; bring out our virtues and take charge of our pending tasks”.
The National Bicentennial Commission is presided by the minister of the Interior and the vice-chairmen are the minister and president of the Council of Culture and the Arts and the ministers of Housing and Urban Planning and Public Works. Other members of the commission are the ministers of National Assets, Transportation and Telecommunications and of the Government General Secretariat.
Also included in the Commission are the presidents of the Senate, the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives (Deputies); the Comptroller General of the Republic; the head of the National Defense Staff; the presidents of the Chilean Association of Municipalities, of the Episcopalian Conference of Chile and of the National Evangelic Union of Chile (Round Table); the chancellor of the Universidad de Chile, the presidents of the Central Workers’ Union, of the Production and Trade Confederation and of the Federation of Social Communication Media and the Grand Master of the Great Lodge of Chile.
– Presidential Advisory Commission for the Bicentennial of the Republic: it is headed up by the minister of the Interior and is made up of 20 people that represent different social areas. Thus, it includes authority figures and leaders from both the private and public sectors, representatives of different ethnicities, politics, the arts, communications, sports, science and the business world.
– Bicentennial Advisory Committee: it is comprised of 42 people, whose noteworthy careers have allowed them to be a contribution in the planning of celebration activities thanks to their experience and knowledge.
Initiatives set forth by the Commission
– Debate and reflection: the intention is to consider the questions of the past and also of the future of Chile as a nation and as a Latin American country.
By promoting moments for debate and reflection, the Bicentennial Commission seeks to contribute and support moments that provide a chance to express the diversity of opinions, projects and beliefs present in Chile.
In addition, the Commission proposes issues of vital importance for Chilean society: history, identity, development, education and citizenship, among many other topics.
– Revisiting Chile: it is a project that originated from the instances for debate and reflection organized by different universities. It consists of the development of tales and fragments that narrate stories and express our national identity.
– Bicentennial Forum: it is a space for discussing issues of national interest through a call to the citizenry. Likewise, it constitutes an opportunity open to knowledge and reflecting on the perspectives offered by different national and foreign speakers.
The idea behind each Bicentennial Forum is to be a complement for getting the word out about the different contents.
It considers rescuing artistic and cultural memories, using the Bicentennial as a time to put in special effort for recovering and keeping alive every aspect of national culture.
In order to do so, the Bicentennial Commission seeks to develop projects that express what Chile’s 200 years as an independent republic have been like. Likewise, it contemplates the publication of the 200 most significant pieces of visual art.
Two of the standout projects are the restorations of the National History Museum and of the flag that was present at the oath of Independence, in 1818.
The cultural program of the Bicentennial Commission also contemplates journalistic activities through invitations to museums, cultural centers and festivals, both music and film orientated, as well as book fairs and other forums for promoting culture. The idea is that in 2009 and 2010, several versions of these events are to take place with special characteristics that keep the celebration of the Bicentennial in mind.
Also included are exceptional cultural events. This was the motivation behind the creation of the Great Bicentennial Cantata and the events of the Foundation of Youth Orchestras.
Finally, the cultural programs of the Bicentennial Commission include a boost in artistic production based on the theme of the Republic’s 200 year anniversary.
What is the Commission interested in? They want the creators to work in their medium, using the theme of the Bicentennial as the fundamental aspect of their piece. This is why work is done alongside the institutions that are dedicated to the promotion of art. For example, art schools, the Book Council and also the Audiovisual and Music councils, among others.
The Bicentennial Award
It is an annual distinction that is handed out as a living tribute to someone that stands out in public service, whose career has made a difference in the country’s culture, thought and the wellbeing of its inhabitants, clearly representing the republican spirit through their legacy.
Candidates are proposed by public or private institutions, companies or non-profit corporations, embassies, international bodies, foundations and higher knowledge institutions.
The winners of the Bicentennial Award receive prize money and a bronze sculpture made by artist Juan Sebastian Solar that represents the Cal y Canto bridge.
The award is handed out jointly by the Bicentennial Commission, the Cultural Heritage Corporation of Chile and the Universisdad de Chile.
Bicentennial School Solidarity Award
It is handed out with the idea of promoting values and encouraging practices that contribute to building a more democratic and supportive country. At the same time, it recognizes great social commitment with the Bicentennial in mind.
This distinction also intends to promote practicing solidarity within the school curriculum; what this means is including these types of practices when teaching the subjects that children learn all year. Not just that, it is also intended as a test for applying new innovative ideas and promoting the capacity of real conflict resolution, facilitating the promotion and expression of different experiences and cooperating with teamwork between educational establishments and the different organizations that are present within the community.
In order for an experience to receive this award, it must have specific characteristics. For example, it must be a systematic and organized practice.
On that note, it is necessary that the protagonists be the students themselves and it must have solidarity as its backbone, in addition to being backed by a commitment on the part of the educational institution.